Tuesday, June 17, 2008 Warsaw Poland. As today is my last day in Warsaw, I decided I'd try to take in as many of the sights as possible. As it turns out, the Old Town, the Warsaw Ghetto Monument and Technology Museum were all pretty close to each other. I was able to walk, or use the trams, to cover everything I wanted to. The first thing I did was to walk to Ian's apartment to pick up my umbrella. It was left in the taxi yesterday. I got there around 10 a.m. we had a cup of tea together and enjoyed some conversation.
Ian lives adjacent to a large and beautiful park in Warsaw called Park Lazienkowski. There are number of sights in the park, but the most interesting is the Palace on the Water. It's a beautiful building, and was the private "residence" of the King in 1764. The park itself is very large with a variety of sights to be seen, but once I visited the Palace, I decided it was getting a bit late and I had lots to to, so I made my way to the Old Town.
At first I was going to walk into the Old Town, but I took a bus instead. I noticed on the map there was a Museum of the Resistance (in the Warsaw Ghetto) not too far from where I intended going, so I thought I'd start there. Unfortunately when I arrived, I discovered the museum is closed on Tuesdays so I didn't get a chance to go inside. I did learn that the museum just opened this year. It was a bit off the beaten track, but it was a new red brick building, quite large, and I'm sure the exhibits are excellent. Another good excuse to come back to Warsaw is the see the museum.
My next stop was the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial. On the way, I visited the Nozyk Synagogue, the oldest in Warsaw. The Warsaw Ghetto was the most "infamous" in Europe during World War II. It was the largest of the Jewish ghettos established between 1941 and 1943. Starvation, disease and deportations to the concentration and extermination camps dropped the population of the ghetto from an estimated 450,000 to approximately 71,000. In 1943 the Warsaw Ghetto was the scene of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the first mass rebellion against the Nazi's. A small area of the former ghetto is now a park and memorial and I sat on a bench for awhile and had a bit of lunch. I stayed about 45 minutes and then made my way to the Old Town of Warsaw.
As its name implies, the Old Town of Warsaw was founded in the 13th Century. The town originally grew up around the site of a castle. The Market Square (Rynek Starego Miasta) was laid out sometime in the late 13th or early 14th century. Old Town is also on UNESCO's World Heritage Site as a place that accurately reflects its history. The Market Square was alive with activity. Horse-drawn carriages, musicians, tourists and restaurants and pubs were in abundance. I walked through the entire Old Town area and found an interesting Museum dedicated to Marie Curie, the discover of radium. She was awarded 2 Nobel Prizes as well, one in physics and one in chemistry. While I thought the exhibits were limited, it was still a worthwhile visit.
As I was walking back to the train station, I spotted the Museum of Technology. Among its exhibits, it is also the home of the Warsaw Planetarium. As has been the case in every city I've visited, I was welcomed into the planetarium, took a couple of pictures, talked at some length with the manager and enjoyed the visit immensely. The planetarium projector is a fairly rare 37 year old Zeiss instrument. The only other working model, of this type, was one I saw in Prague. I also found they had an amateur radio station there, and while it wasn't open, it was fun to see.
So, tomorrow I'm off to Berlin on an 11:25 a.m. train. It's a 6 or 7 hour ride, so I'll be there tomorrow evening. From there it'll be on to Amsterdam where Jennifer will join me on the 23rd. I can't believe my European adventure is coming to a close. It's been wonderful so far, and I expect the remainder to be just as enjoyable.
Bye for now.....